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Upstream: Searching for Wild Salmon, from River to Table

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  153 ratings  ·  35 reviews
From the award-winning author of The Mushroom Hunters comes the story of an iconic fish, perhaps the last great wild food: salmon.
For some, a salmon evokes the distant wild--thrashing in the jaws of a hungry grizzly bear on TV, perhaps. For others, it's the catch of the day on a restaurant menu, or a deep red fillet at the market. For others still, it's the jolt of adren
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 30th 2017 by Ballantine Books
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Always Pouting
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
So I did that thing again where I just picked up this book without any idea what it was about, this is one of the many galley's I still have pilled up from when I first got on netgalley and requested everything, and so I was pretty confused while reading the book. It is narrative so I was expecting some kind of storyline but then he kept talking about salmon and I was pretty confused for like a third of the book. Now after reading the summary and other reviews I realize that's what the book is s ...more
Clare O'Beara
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This very enjoyable look at wild salmon, the people who profit from them and threats to them, is a fine reminder that clean environment and wealth go hand in hand.

From restaurant owners to native fishermen, the men who decided to market fresh salmon as opposed to canned, and the legislations they all have to follow, we get a comprehensive view of the topic. We also get recipes, adventure and travel down the west coast of America. What more could you ask? The book is a nice length to be packed w
Kristen Lindquist
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
More than a natural or political history of the five West Coast salmon species, this beautifully written book introduces you to engaging people--players in the fields of fishing, fish conservation, and salmon-as-food--and places where the salmon are still found. As with his previous book THE MUSHROOM HUNTERS, Cook portrays the characters he encounters in his research as thoroughly and as well as he does the landscapes he moves through. You don't need to be a fisherman to appreciate this thoughtf ...more
Randal White
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it

An excellent read on the history, biology, and current struggles to survive of salmon. Cook offers views of the fish through the eyes of fishermen, fish biologists, and everyday people. It left me surprised that there are any salmon left in the world. Very interesting!

Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book. I like salmon, so this brought me much further down the rabbit hole to really understand salmon and where they come from. It makes you think long and hard about farm salmon or hatcheries. Underlying it all is the sad truth that given the opportunity, humans will tap their resources into complete exhaustion without any thought to sustainability. I hope people can start to see how important nature of is and how mindful of It we need to be. Also the discussions on fly fish ...more
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Langdon takes transitions from dirt-to-water in this book, examining salmon and the communities built around. Up and down the Pacific Northwest - and even down to California - Langdon enmeshes himself in the local places and conflicts that surround the complexity of the different breeds of salmon, narrating his travels and reporting histories. I found the book to be very revealing, shedding light on local issues that would never likely become national news, and which have broad and long-term con ...more
May 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I have been fishing most of my life, but live on the east coast, so I've only been able to fish Lake Ontario during the king salmon run there. This made me interested in reading this book once I saw it.

I really enjoyed most of the book. The start of it was great, learning more about the details of the life of the Pacific salmon and all of the trials it goes through to return to its home, most of which are becoming more and more inaccessible. The book covers many other topics including hatcheries
Hazel Bright
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I just finished my masters studying Lake Sturgeon in Alberta, and learned a quite a few things about fish and fish conservation from this book. Wish it had been around before I wrote my thesis! The reef net technique and the impact of "mitigation" hatcheries are two big ones. He also discusses fragmentation, which I can confirm from my own research to be one of the biggest drivers of species loss. I was surprised that Cook never noted research by Burkhead showing that in the twentieth century, f ...more
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
I had no idea there were so many different kinds of salmon! Less surprising is the dire circumstances that they are all in thanks to over-fishing, dams, farmed salmon etc. This was a really entertaining roam through several states into different types of salmon, fishermen, chefs etc. I really enjoyed the conversational style of it but it has substance.
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellent book about the destruction of the 5 species of Pacific salmon, the endless ways that humans contribute and the meaningful ways that a few are trying to reverse that destruction. I'm way more preachy than this book. This book is fascinating and an ode to these wonderful fish through the eyes of an angler. Don't eat farmed fish. Support indigenous fishing rights. Get rid of dams!
Bill Brewer
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: General public
Recommended to Bill by: John J. Brewer
Ever since the mid-1960s, when I became aware of what anadromous fish were, salmon and steelhead have fascinated me. Their protection and enhancement has always been something I have hoped for. Most of the damage done to them occurred before my interest in them began whether it was gillnets, dams, watershed degradation, or simply overfishing. Billions of dollars have been spent trying to preserve and restore these fish. “Upstream Searching for Wild Salmon, From River to Table” is a recounting of ...more
Michael Doherty
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
20 years ago Mark Kurlansky's "Cod" came out, a book about the ruining of a once great Atlantic food source from overfishing. Although well-written, Cod was phenomenally depressing, if only because there's recipes throughout on how to cook the once abundant fish. Cod serves as a good contrast to the far more optimistic work Langdon Cook has done with Upstream, a study of Pacific Salmon.

Upstream is filled with territory, rivers, fishing tales, people- both native and not- going about their busin
Ken Hunt
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is my second Langdon Cook book (other book was about mushroom foraging in PNW). I really enjoy his topics and writing. I describe his books as foodie meets Timothy Egan. He digs into the history and culture (and sub culture) of the food, the players in getting from farm or stream to table, and the environmental ramifications of policy on the natural resource, our food supply, our legacy, and our myriad cultures. Any self respecting Pacific Northwesterner who approaches their salmon consumpt ...more
Michael Layden
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed learning more about Pacific salmon and the state of the different rivers on the west coast of America. I was particularly fascinated by the discussion of the work in California particularly along the Sacramento bypass.
I know very little about the five different Pacific salmon so this book helped give me a better overview. The author is a angler so I found the discussion of fly fishing for salmon very familiar.
I had not come across the technique of reef net fishing before so this was a i
Apr 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Kind of a messy read but much of it kept my interest. The book is a mish mash of science and passion for the joys of fishing. The author is realistic about the possibility of blending the needs of various interest groups that are impacted by decisions that can help some populations of wild salmon survive. We are not going to ever see what once was in the way of massive runs of wild fish. Hatcheries are not going away but they also aren't a singular solution. There will have to be room for both i ...more
Sarah Ferguson
I really enjoyed "The Mushroom Hunters" and had high hopes for this book (I gave "The Mushroom Hunters" five stars when I read it a few years ago, and still regularly think about it and relate stories from it to people). Unfortunately, "Upstream" was nothing like Cook's previous book - I made it into the fourth chapter, got sick and tired of hearing about people who I was either indifferent to or actively disliked, and decided I was done with it. Life's too short to read bad books.
James Dykes
Oct 12, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Spaced out

This was more about an attempt at creative writing than an adapt to inform. It would be difficult, for example, to create a chart of properties of the main types of salmon from this book. There is also no mention of the current program of reintroducing steelhead into the great lakes. Overall the book is unbalanced toward ephemera liberal notions and against those of commerce.
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a personal look at the story of Pacific salmon. It is inclusive and historical, with stories of the rivers and the people who love salmon. It includes all sorts of fisherman, scientists, restauranteurs and others involved in the life of salmon from how they are spawned to the table. These people come to life in Cook's writing. His descriptions of the locations are beautiful and thoughtful.
Darrin Niday
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I thought it was a slow start as someone who doesn't have the joy of fishing for Salmon, but the more I read the better it got. I enjoyed the aspect of the different types of fishing, and the different ways it was cooked as well, but I really enjoyed when the environmental aspects and finally toward the end when he talked about what had been done and well it was turning things around. Good book
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
Langoon Cook wrote a great story. I don’t know if I want to dine on the Copper River King or help the environmentalist save the salmon. I loved the American Native history of the Northwest. This was a great read on many levels. Well, I decided if I ever have the opportunity to put a big fat Chinook filet on my plate, I’ll do so.
Christina Schepart
Well balanced

Often times I find books like this to be overly negative, however the author does an excellent job of balancing the negative by communicating the positive changes that are occurring simultaneously. A great, eye opening read that will have you really thinking about the salmon you put on your dinner table
Vincent Andersen
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well written, fact filled look at Salmon's place in the history, ecosystem and culture of America and particularly the Northwest.

Be forewarned, the author has a decidedly liberal, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Trout Unlimited point of view. I would've preferred a little more balance, but despite that bias it's a fascinating and informative read. Highly recommended.
I got most of the way through on audio. I didn't see the path this book was taking for the most part. There were some interesting anecdotes about salmon but it wasn't what I was expecting so I think I zoned out too much on the audio to really grasp the contents.
Jackson Matthews
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When should one give up and go with the flow? Save our rivers is not working against the corporate behemoths and people who love cheap electricity. So, what to do in the meantime waiting for a breach in the culture of me-anness.
Robert Sutherland
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book about Salmon and contemporary society.
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Good book for those with little knowledge of salmon but for us living in the Puger Sound area, it is all old stuff.
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Love salmon and reading about them! The book is well written and offers many human interest stories along with salmon stories.
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting! Would pair well with the documentary damnation.
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Riveting. A must read for anyone who loves to fish or loves to eat salmon.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Langdon Cook is the author of The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America (Ballantine, 2013), which Publishers Weekly called "intrepid and inspired," and Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager (Mountaineers, 2009), which The Seattle Times called "lyrical, practical and quixotic." His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Terrain, Gray’s Sp ...more

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